Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometers (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second-largest country by total area and the fourth-largest country by land area. Canada’s border with the United States is the world’s longest land border. Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains; about four-fifths of the country’s population of 35 million people live near the southern border. The majority of Canada has a cold or severely cold winter climate, but southerly areas are warm in summer.
- Name of country: Canada
- Capital city: Ottawa
- Area: 9,984,670 km²
- Population: 36,048,521 (2016)
- Currency: Canadian Dollars (CAD)
- Time zone: Winter: UTC−3,5 to −8; Summer: UTC−2,5 to −7
- Language: English and French
- Main religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic: 38.7%, Protestant: 23.5%, Anglican: 5.0%)
Geography and Climate
Canada occupies much of the continent of North America, sharing land borders with the contiguous United States to the south, and the US state of Alaska to the northwest. Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Greenland is to the northeast. By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, however, Canada ranks fourth, the difference being due to it having the worlds largest proportion of fresh water lakes.
Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary from region to region. Winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, which experience a continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F), but can drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) with severe wind chills. In non-coastal regions, snow can cover the ground for almost six months of the year, while in parts of the north snow can persist year-round. Coastal British Columbia has a temperate climate, with a mild and rainy winter. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with temperatures in some interior locations occasionally exceeding 40 °C (104 °F).
Canada is the world’s eleventh-largest economy as of 2015, with a nominal GDP of approximately US$1.79 trillion. It is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Group of Eight (G8), and is one of the world’s top ten trading nations, with a highly globalized economy. Canada is a mixed economy, ranking above the US and most western European nations on the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom, and experiencing a relatively low level of income disparity. The country’s average household disposable income per capita is over US$23,900, higher than the OECD average. Furthermore, the Toronto Stock Exchange is the seventh largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalization, listing over 1,500 companies with a combined market capitalization of over US$2 trillion as of 2015.
Provinces and Territories
Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories. In turn, these may be grouped into four main regions: Western Canada, Central Canada, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada (Eastern Canada refers to Central Canada and Atlantic Canada together). Provinces have more autonomy than territories, having responsibility for social programs such as health care, education, and welfare. Together, the provinces collect more revenue than the federal government, an almost unique structure among federations in the world. Using its spending powers, the federal government can initiate national policies in provincial areas, such as the Canada Health Act; the provinces can opt out of these, but rarely do so in practice. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to ensure that reasonably uniform standards of services and taxation are kept between the richer and poorer provinces.
According to a 2012 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada is the most educated country in the world; the country ranks first worldwide in the number of adults having tertiary education, with 51 percent of Canadian adults having attained at least an undergraduate college or university degree. Canada spends about 5.3% of its GDP on education. The country invests heavily in tertiary education (more than 20 000 USD per student). As of 2014, 89 percent of adults aged 25 to 64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, compared to an OECD average of 75 percent.
Since the adoption of section 23 of the Constitution Act, 1982, education in both English and French has been available in most places across Canada. Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for education provision. The mandatory school age ranges between 5–7 to 16–18 years, contributing to an adult literacy rate of 99 percent. In 2002, 43 percent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 possessed a post-secondary education; for those aged 25 to 34, the rate of post-secondary education reached 51 percent. The Programme for International Student Assessment indicates that Canadian students perform well above the OECD average, particularly in mathematics, science, and reading.
Canada’s culture draws influences from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote a “just society” are constitutionally protected. Canada has placed emphasis on equality and inclusiveness for all its people. Multiculturalism is often cited as one of Canada’s significant accomplishments, and a key distinguishing element of Canadian identity. In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and many commentators speak of a culture of Quebec that is distinct from English Canadian culture. However, as a whole, Canada is in theory a cultural mosaic—a collection of several regional, aboriginal, and ethnic subcultures.
Canada’s approach to governance emphasizing multiculturalism, which is based on selective immigration, social integration, and suppression of far right politics, has wide public support. Government policies such as publicly funded health care, higher taxation to redistribute wealth, the outlawing of capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, strict gun control, and the legalization of same-sex marriage are further social indicators of Canada’s political and cultural values. Canadians also identify with the countries institutions of health care, peacekeeping, the National park system and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Historically, Canada has been influenced by British, French, and aboriginal cultures and traditions. Through their language, art and music, aboriginal peoples continue to influence the Canadian identity. During the 20th-century Canadians with African, Caribbean and Asian nationalities have added to the Canadian identity and its culture. Canadian humour is an integral part of the Canadian Identity and is reflected in its folklore, literature, music, art and media. The primary characteristics of Canadian humour are irony, parody, and satire. Many Canadian comedians have archived international success in the American TV and film industries and are amongst the most recognized in the world.
Canada has a well-developed media sector, but its cultural output; particularly in English films, television shows, and magazines, is often overshadowed by imports from the United States. As a result, the preservation of a distinctly Canadian culture is supported by federal government programs, laws, and institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
WHY STUDY IN CANADA?
INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED DEGREES
Canada’s universities maintain high standards of academic excellence and are consistently recognized in top international rankings. Moreover, Canadian tuition fees are some of the lowest in English-speaking countries. Each year hundreds of thousands of international students attend Canadian colleges and universities. Their degrees are recognized around the world as being equivalent to those obtained from the United States or Commonwealth countries. Canada boasts a wide range of quality educational institutions for both degrees and diplomas in technical and professional disciplines.
Canada has traditionally been a country of immigrants and has a policy of encouraging multicultural diversity. In this vibrant setting, different perspectives are respected and learning together is encouraged. Almost all of the world's ethnic groups are represented in Canada. As a result, most ethnic foods and recreational activities associated with specific cultures are available in Canada. Clubs, informal clubs and associations representing a multitude of ethnic backgrounds are also easily accessible. International student advisors at schools can help students get in touch with such groups. All major urban centres have a variety of shopping malls, restaurants, theatres, art galleries and museums. Canadian cities provide numerous parks, gardens and beaches for public use, as well as excellent sports and recreation facilities Canadians place a high value on their natural environment. There are currently 42 national parks and national park reserves in Canada. National parks are located in every province and territory, and some have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each province and territory has also designated areas as provincial parks, wilderness areas, ecological and nature reserves. There are over 2000 of these designated areas across the country. Students who come to Canada will witness one of the most beautiful, natural environments in the world. Canada is also a country of diverse geography, and there is much to experience in its great outdoors: from the lush coastline of British Columbia, the majestic Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the big skies of the prairies, to the 'maple sugar country' in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and the rugged hills and picturesque coastline of the Atlantic provinces.
LOW COST OF STUDY
Compared to many countries, the cost of studying in Canada is very affordable. As a guide, you will likely need between $15,000 CDN and $30,000 CDN annually to cover tuition and living expenses. However, this cost range is an average only and will vary according to the institution and program in which you are enrolled, your location, and living choices.
POSSIBILITY TO WORK IN CANADA AFTER GRADUATION
International students who have graduated from a Canadian university or college have the opportunity to work in Canada for up to one year after they receive their degree or diploma. International students can work on campus without a work permit. Plans are being made to allow international students to work off-campus, too.
A BILINGUAL NATION
Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, English and French. The vast majority (75 per cent) of Canada's French-speaking inhabitants live in the province of Québec, which is located in the eastern part of the country but there are French-speaking communities throughout the country. According to a 2001 census, French is the mother tongue of 81 per cent of Québec's population and is spoken at home by 83 per cent of Québecers. Internationally, it is estimated that over 1 billion people speak English and over 250 million speak French. As a bilingual nation, Canada offers superior English as a Second Language (ESL) and French as a Second Language (FSL) programs for students wishing to learn either or both languages.